Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ will be a game-changer for black films

BLACK PANTHER in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe presents a unique opportunity to profoundly shape general public perception of films featuring mostly black actors on an epic scale.

On a seemingly random Tuesday afternoon, Marvel decided to drop the hammer on its fans and its competition at Warner Bros./DC by announcing its movie schedule through 2019 that will include BLACK PANTHER. The film was announced with GET ON UP and 42 rising star Chadwick Boseman as the titular and iconic character. 

Marvel will begin dropping strong references to Black Panther in next year’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and the character is said to feature in some capacity in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR in 2016, which will also star Robert Downey, Jr., as Tony Stark/Iron Man. BLACK PANTHER solo film is set for November 2017. However, Marvel actually dropped the very first hint that Black Panther was in its cinematic universe in 2010’s IRON MAN 2.

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Rumors were strong, and by word of creator Stan Lee, that Marvel Studios was developing a BLACK PANTHER film. The likelihood the movie increased after the lesser-known “Guardians of the Galaxy” did Aquaman-numbers to earn more than $644 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. You should know Black Panther is also a relative unknown to the mainstream audience although he is the first black superhero with real super powers.

WHO IS BLACK PANTHER?

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BLACK PANTHER created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, takes readers on the incredible journey of T’Challa as he ascends to the kingship of the highly advanced African nation of Wakanda and eventual membership into the Avengers superhero team.

Marvel Studios established itself as the leading house for comic book film adaptations. They took casual B-level characters at the time such as Thor, Hulk, and a talking raccoon named Rocket, and turned them into A-plus players that are beginning to dwarf heavyweights Batman and Superman.

The MCU’s films have generated more than $2 billion in gross box office since the kickoff in 2008 with “Iron Man.” We are within a year of Marvel’s next juggernaut film, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which easily can earn higher than its predecessor.

MARVEL’S BRAND & DEMAND

Marvel all phases

Understand that Disney/Marvel’s films and TV shows are interconnected within a shared universe. The films are sectioned into “phases” that, as far as we know, culminate in an epic Avengers film. We do know and incorporated an element known as “vibranium,” typically found within that country, in brief scenes from IRON MAN 2. The Marvel brand has earned enough goodwill with audiences that we can expect a very entertaining film and in some cases some great action cinema.

We will likely start Phase 3 with next summer’s ANT-MAN and conclude with the two-part epic AVENGERS: THE INFINITY WAR in 2019. Other films will include the supernatural-based “Doctor Strange” and another outer space epic in “The Inhumans.”

The demand was there as Marvel head Kevin Feige directly acknowledged development in an interview with IGN,

“[Black Panther and Captain Marvel] are characters that we like, that development work has been done, it’s continuing to be done on, and certainly it’s the question I get asked more than anything else, more than Iron Man 4, more than Avengers 3. That’s sort of the first time that’s really happened to us, so I think that makes a difference. I think that’s something we have to pay attention to…”  

EVERYONE CAN WIN

A T’Challa focused film would be winner for Marvel and every movie goer for these reasons:

  • Black Panther can be a game changer for how black films are regarded beyond the pigeon-holed genres in drama and comedy, and become bankable, global action franchises
  • Potentially attract more black and multicultural audiences and expand the pool of paying movie goers beyond the 49% of frequent moviegoers that are white, versus 13% black and 32% Latino, according to the MPAA (jump to page 14), and thus a primary reason why many movies are tailored for this audience.
  • The possibilities can be that we will see more films that present non-white characters in top leading roles at a greater frequency than ever.

Within my love of films, I am very fond of action movies. I also like great drama, some comedy, romance, and high concepts that take place in areas of the world I want to visit. I have always dreamt of an epic film that takes place in Africa where a warrior would rise against the enemy of his or her people and conquer them in the name of freedom and establishing a new thriving kingdom.

The movies I’m talking about already exists and they star white people. Just the way it is right now, however that can and should change. Some notable ones below:

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These films not only starred white people but some of them have white characters saving and then integrating into a [alien/based on Native American, Japanese, and actual Native American] culture as their leader. I enjoy a good epic film however, I can’t fully be gung-ho about it when that is a common thread in several epic action movies. A lead character saving his or her own culture and ascending as its leader is a very striking story to tell in American-produced cinema.

FINAL THOUGHTS

BLACK PANTHER represents the opportunity to showcase black actors in a very high-level platform. I was overjoyed yesterday about this particular piece of news and the potential of its greatness is hopefully not lost on Marvel, Boseman or especially us as fans. I think this movie will be a game-changer for black films moving forward. I need a DeLorean to skip ahead to 2017 now.

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